TASD still working on booster club policy

Tyrone Area School District officials continue to work on a booster club policy.
The district furthered those efforts earlier this month when a presentation was held for several representatives of the many booster clubs that promote a variety of activities.
The issue had previously been discussed at an October work session of the Tyrone Area School Board. Administrators had submitted a policy for review to school board members. The normal process requires a 30-day review period before the policy is brought before the board a second time for possible approval.
However, after the discussions at the work session, further action on the policy was tabled until at least January.
During that work session, the idea to limit the amount of fundraisers each year for a booster club was floated by administrators. One school board member, Peter Dutrow, expressed concern with that idea. Administrators wanted to limit the total amount of fundraisers per year to three for each booster organization.
Nutritional concerns regarding food items sold at school-related events were also addressed. Administrators said the policy is being directed by government initiatives.
During an extensive discussion with The Daily Herald, Superintendent of Schools, Dr. William N. Miller cited “No Child Left Behind” as another federal directive that have generated hundreds of policies that need to be addressed. Miller said some of the issues haven’t been addressed regarding booster clubs and other issues for eight to 10 years.
He said there have been internal conflicts or other unresolved issues among booster club members from time to time. He explained that the district is sometimes asked to act as mediator.
Miller noted while the booster clubs are independent organizations, the district is now legally required to “make certain that there is equity that exists for boosters club.”
Business administrator Cathy Peachey outlined the policy during a Dec. 5 meeting with the booster club representatives.
She explained under the policy, organizations would have to submit a general plan of operation for the school year prior to Aug. 15. The plan would have to include a list of officers, an estimate of annual expenses and disbursements, as well as a proposed listing of fundraising and activities for the group. Policies were also outlined for financial record keeping.
Peachey noted, “We do not want financial authority or anything over the booster clubs. It’s just a matter of us being able to get information.”
The policy also noted that exceptions to the “three fundraising projects per year” provision would be reviewed and approved by the administration on a case-by-case basis. It was pointed out that concession stand activities were not considered as one of the three fundraising activities per year. The rule applies to activities that included direct solicitation of the public. The Tyrone Elementary PTO group raised concerns over the policy and Peachey reiterated exceptions were allowed.
The proposed boosters policy also requires that changes regarding fundraising activities be submitted 60 days before the scheduled time of the activity. The policy also requires booster organizations to maintain insurance coverage.
Some booster club representatives raised concerns regarding some of the requirements of the policy. Concerns were expressed regarding the Aug. 15 deadline for having information to administrators. Some booster clubs have not traditionally met for planning purposes for an upcoming year prior to Aug. 15 because their activities don’t occur until later in the year. Peachey urged them to consider meeting earlier.
Concerns were also expressed over the length of time required to notify administrators about changes or additional fund raising activities that might be needed during the school year.
Concerns were also expressed about the length of time it is taking to get approval for use of school facilities. A “use of facilities” form is required for all outside groups requesting use of school buildings and facilities for meetings and activities. One booster member noted such requests are taking two weeks to be approved.
Peachey said she hoped to eventually have the forms put on the district’s web site. Such a move would expedite the process since those needing the forms would not have to come to the school to pick up a form or have it mailed to them.
A discussion also ensued about the type of activities for which booster clubs would be required to have insurance coverage.
After the meeting, Jim Gehret of the basketball boosters said, “I think it’s nice we are getting a formalized document so that all the boosters can follow it. I think (for) some of the smaller boosters, it puts a financial burden on them. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the booster clubs close up or disband because of this.
“I think the insurance issue is going to be a big (concern),” said Gehret.
Regarding the limit on fundraisers, he said, “Some of the organizations are doing from five to 10 fundraisers just to raise money to pay for uniforms. In some aspects if they didn’t do that it would fall back on the school district.”
He said the basketball boosters spent $15,000 on the program. He asked if the boosters didn’t do that would the district.
He also noted some booster clubs might be more established and more organized that others and the new policy might affect the organizations differently. He said the time of the year and how often a booster club met affects their ability to plan.
Kim Capenos, president of the PTO, said, “We’re wondering how (the insurance issue) will affect us because we have so many children we sent on field trips and different activities.”
She said officials had answered her questions about the three fundraiser per year rule.
“We’re kind of an exception because we are fundraising for so many kids for so many different activities throughout the year,” said Capenos.
She noted her organization has always been held accountable. She said the group had a budget of $89,000 last year and anticipates a budget of more than $100,000 this year.